HC Deb 02 April 1919 vol 114 cc1302-3

Order for Second Reading read.

Captain GUEST (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

I beg to move "That the Bill be now read a second time."

I wish to ask the House to pass all the stages of a very small Bill which is neces- sary to remove certain disabilities from which soldiers suffer at the present moment. The Parliamentary Elections (Soldiers) Act, 1847, prohibits soldiers, if they are quartered within two miles of any town in which an election is held,' or a nomination is made, or a poll declared, from leaving barracks on that day except for certain specified purposes. The only purposes for which they are allowed to leave barracks are either to relieve or mount guard, or to register their votes. That Act was passed previously to the Ballot Act, and it will be apparent to the House that it has become completely obsolete. It is not only obsolete, but extremely inconvenient in its present form. In many cases the military work of the day has to be suspended, more particularly if the military headquarters or the Record Offices, or the Pay Offices happen to be situated in the borough, city, or town. I would also like to remind the House that this Bill will only give the same facilities of freedom that have aways been accorded to sailors and, indeed, have never been taken from them. When at the recent election the War Cabinet took upon themselves to suspend the Act they relied upon the House of Commons granting an indemnity if anybody challenged that course. The proposal is to repeal the Act and to make the repeal retrospective to 10th December, which is prior to the date of the polling at the last election. That is the sum total of the small Bill which I ask the House to pass through all its stages.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a second time.

Resolved, That this House will immediately resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill."—[Mr. Pratt.]

Bill accordingly considered in Committee; reported without Amendment; read the third time, and passed.